Morsell is the only one on your list that Tony identified early and made a top priority. Everyone else was a plan b or c or d.
Thanks for responding.
-Morsell doesn’t seem to have point guard talents. He has shown that he can dribble the ball toward the basket. He’s not a good shooter. He is a great athlete. He’s built like a football player. He’s a good representative for UVa. But I’m not sure why Tony made him a top priority.
My question is: if everyone else were plans b, c, and d, what went “wrong” in recruiting those years?
If people say, “well, we were loaded, and prospects were scared off by potentially having to sit on the bench,” I don’t buy that. But then, I’m a fan, not a coach.
There have been a handful of coaches in the history of college basketball who have been able to get highly-recruited high school players to be willing to possibly sit behind good college players, because as a coach, do you really want players who are afraid of competition?
Did Tony Bennett’s “style of play” scare off good offensive players in the last 3 years? It didn’t necessarily attract good defensive players.
Although UVa’s team scoring average this season is low, it’s obvious to me that they have changed their style of offense. Any time that UVa has a chance to fast-break, they are taking it.
If this is true, this is good, isn’t it?
Just my two cents here. Not sure we can say that those years went wrong per se. Virginia is going to have different types of recruits. First are the academic requirements. If you aren’t committed to defense you simply will not see the floor. The best players today want to play right away and that is not something Tony usually does. So when you have guys like the Big 3 ahead of you, and a mandate to defend, it might deter some young men. Without a history of guys leaving early, these openings just were not anticipated, probably by both recruits and the coaching staff. As for Morsell, he was a consensus four star top 60 player in high school. To start from day one, essentially replacing Kyle Guy, is a huge ask. You are right he is not a point guard he is definitely a two, and he was recruited that way. His turns as primary ball handler are absolutely out of necessity. Kody was a developmental and depth signing. He is playing significant minutes a year earlier than anticipated. I think Tomas was signed when Juzang and whatever grad transfers were being recruited fell through for added shooting depth, given his JUCO history. Lots of young talent on the way next year, and Sam Houser who will be the go to guy day one.
Combination of factors led to current roster. These have all been discussed many times on UVA boards and are not my original thoughts or insights, just summary of what I have read.
- Three years ago the Charlottesville riots scared off several guards who were leaning towards UVA
2 Two years ago CTB swung for the fences and focused on a few top 25 targets,.e.g. Jahvon Quinerly and failed to land them. He knew what he had in Jerome and Guy and was willing to take the risk.
- Until very late in last years recruiting process CTB thought Guy and Jerome, or at least Guy would return for this year. Late start left him with Grad transfer or Juco market.
Well @AntsalVeets is an obvious troll. Our first, so congrats on that! He’s already been suspended once and I assume soon will again. That’s not up to me. No one could be this interested in recruiting and yet so woefully uninformed. He’s being purposely intellectually dishonest to provoke a reaction, in other words classic trolling.
But hey we’ll just hijack his thread to maybe have a discussion on Bennett’s recruiting strategy, and how it’s evolved. You know something of actual substance instead of half baked criticisms.
One thing I think fans have to get away from is looking at basketball recruiting in terms of classes. That’s a football thing that doesn’t really translate. Even more so with how Bennett operates. If you’re going to judge, go by generations which can sometimes extend over 3 classes.
Bennett typecasts with recruiting. I’ve talked about this a lot. He basically fills 7 roles, over and over. Every 2-3 years he brings in a player designated for each role. It never exactly works as planned. Some players end up different than intended. Some don’t work out at all. And then there are others that fill multiple roles (Jerome, Brogdon), which help cover up those holes and gives them flexibility in recruiting.
The beauty in that system is the next guy is already on the roster. The downside is in recruiting, because the next guy is already on the roster. It inevitably leads to inconsistency. A strong generation at guard will typically be followed by a weaker one. You can smirk about being scared of competition, but prized recruits have too many great options to choose a path of obstacles. Any program that follows the get old/stay old model deals with this.
Strategically, it’s night and day from the 2018 class which was their worst in terms of process. There was a lot of introspection that took place then. Offers used to flow like candy on Halloween. Now they’re extremely hard to come by. They recruit fewer players but actually spread Bennett’s attention out more. it’s still a high risk/high reward strategy. But a little less so than in the past. Something I’ve always admired about Bennett’s recruiting is he’s never settled until he absolutely has to. There’s not a plan B really. He just finds a new plan A. The post above says Tony swung for the fences. Well he always does. It’s just that he sees fences where others don’t.
They’ve gone away from trying to fill every scholarship no matter what. I call it the Wisconsin model where Dick Bennett and Bo Ryan accepted they weren’t going to get many top prospects so they made sure to use every available lottery ticket to develop them. The truth is 13 scholarships is too many. That’s why there are so many transfers in college basketball. You can’t consistently keep that many players happy, no matter how wisely you manage the roster. Because Bennett fills roles, now fewer of them get occupied by low ceiling “settles”.
The offense has changed, and yep that does get their foot in the door with certain types of players that might not have previously listened. We’ll never know, but I doubt we get Jabri Abdur-Rahim if he had watched a blocker/mover team in the NCAAT. And players leaving early for the NBA hurts now, but it’s recruiting gold. Totally took away a ridiculous theme that was used against Bennett, that he holds players back to keep them longer.
Looking ahead. This next guard spot they’re trying to fill will be a great litmus test for how much things have changed. I don’t know how realistic these early targets are to be honest. Which is fine. That’s what summer is for, to adjust. It’ll be interesting to see how close they can come for guys like Keels or Watson. Pulling one of those a year behind Jabri Carson and Reece would be monumental. In similar past situations, we haven’t managed to stay in the race.
Thanks HGN, I’m definitely no recruiting expert but regardless of these players rankings the results speak for theirselves. We are one of the best programs in the nation. We are the reigning National Champions. Tony develops players and it shows. Losing the Big 3 hurt bad but the future looks great and more and more top prospects are seriously considering UVA and we are getting some of them and will continue to do so
In my unbiased opinion we are the best program in the nation
Does the Efton Reid recruitment seem more favorable for UVA than Henry Coleman at the same stage? How would you describe his skillset? The big physical interior player seems to be needed less and less in today’s small ball game.
Yeah they’re all over Efton. Totally different than Henry who Tony hadn’t visited with at this point. Bennett was all about the guards last year. It’s not that they didn’t want Henry. They were just willing to let him go if that’s how it had to be.
Yeah I agree with you on traditional bigs being less relevant today. But at the same time, you gotta have them. UVA’s approach to the front line seems to be having all the above. It’s evolved the last few years. Lots of pieces to match up with any lineup. Efton’s big obviously but calling him physical is a stretch. He’s more the skilled finesse guy. I think that’s how they like it really, 2 centers on the roster…one banger (Salt, Caffaro) and one skilled (Huff, Efton).
Great read HGN!
What Casey is going through may end up being the best thing to happen for him, and if we had looked at things more closely, it likely could have been anticipated to some degree.
Casey had the ball in his hands quite a bit at St John’s. As a result, it allowed him to develop a better offensive rhythm and feel for his shot. Casey was effective on his dribble/drive to the rim, had a solid mid-range jumper and was decent from 3. Casey was either the #1 or #2 player in the traditionally stout Washington Catholic Athletic Conference. Arguably, the year-in/year-out top high school basketball conference in the nation. Anyone questioning Casey’s credentials may want to take a harder look.
At UVA, Kihei controls the ball and Casey is mostly setting up beyond arc for a 3 point shot and playing a similar role like past SGs. Occasionally, I see him willing to drive to the rim if a lane opens up. But that strong midrange shot that was so effective at St John’s and AAU ball has been placed on the back burner. As Tony gets to know Casey’s strengths better, I hope he incorporates that midrange jumper more into the offense.
This may end up as a win/win for Casey and UVA. Morsell’s defense will keep him on the court. The more experience Casey gains, the tougher defender he will become. Furthermore, the work needed on the offensive side will temper the silly talk if Casey will jump to the NBA after one year or two. Casey looks like a definite 3-year player that will grow and develop into an excellent all-around player. He’s also an excellent student and should excel in UVA’s academic environment.
It would be great if Carson McCorkle agrees to redshirt next season. When I look at Casey, Kody, Tomas, Jabri, and Sam Hauser who likes to play the 3 at times, I wonder where the minutes will come from to split among two positions?
Huff should try to transition into a banger center, even though UVa might not like it. He has shown bursts of talent in that role. This year as a “skilled” center, he has given the ball up on numerous three point attempts. He acts too much like a Point Guard. .I do agree, however, that if Huff’s 3 and defensive movement change, he can stay a skilled center. He sometimes impresses me with the IQ in his game. Also, Efton looks legit. He is perfect for UVa
This isn’t that related to your point. But I was talking to someone about Huff today and that led to me looking at his stats. He’s played almost exactly the same minutes this season as all last year. It’s interesting to compare his stats.
There are two big areas of improvement. Offensive rebounds are up 50%, and he’s cut his fouls in half. That last part really speaks to his improved agility. Unfortunately whether it’s on him or the offense, his usage has shrunk. Identical on 2P attempts with 10 fewer 3P attempts.
Even though he is considered an upperclassman, I feel as if he is getting his confidence in the wrong moments for example he shot a three after we worked hard to come back on a run. His main attribute this season has been his putback ability. Some games I am impressed by his ability, but with others he looks like raw talent. Looking at his stats suggest he is moving from raw talent to a more complete player, but he is losing confidence quickly.
On the roles, just so I have them clear, they are:
Big guard (or combo guard?)
Movement shooter (e.g. Guy)
Athletic wing (e.g. Hunter)
Mobile forward (e.g. Diakite)
Or something roughly similar? I’m not totally sure what I’m calling “movement shooter” is actually a distinct role he recruits for, or something he just looks for in his perimeter roles.
Huff has been one of the most interesting projects I’ve seen come through any program and any sport. I’m still not quite sure what to make of his progress this year. I think you’re right we are witnessing him transition from raw to complete, but I think think he may be taking hits to his confidence along the way. Long term that could all work out without issue. I feel like he is stuck between 2 worlds of becoming a true banger/hustle guy ala Mamadi last season and a pick and pop shooter.
I believe Jay’s confidence has played a role in his shooting woes. Partly because I don’t think Jay knows what his role is supposed to be. His defensive transformation has been outstanding and I have been pleasantly surprised by it. His hesitation with the ball in his hands has been the problem. I wish he would just take what the defense gives him without hesitation. He’s a lot better shooter than what we have seen. He should learn from Casey. His shot is not falling but he doesn’t back down from shooting and that’s a good thing. They are going to start falling. I hope Jay does the same
If your not confident in your shot it’s not going to drop often.
You have the guards basically. Take away a center and add a modernized Anthony Gill, which is just about scoring from the 4 spot while being able to defend both big and small lineups. The center convo above was about 2 diff generations. It’s a bit more complicated than that when you dig deeper but that’s the rough blueprint.
@HoozGotNext Thanks for the Huff stats. He is playing over 2x minutes per game than last year. I think his role has expanded too. Last year, it seemed that Coach Bennett played Huff mostly in limited situations to generate offense. This year, Coach Bennett plays Huff in those same limited situations but now the Coach additionally plays Huff in every game for his needed (and much improved) defense. Huff’s length is a real disruptor of other teams’ offenses. Huff’s stamina has greatly improved . Huff has improved his overall game significantly over last year. I think the stats support this. Focusing on Huff’s three point shooting is not reflective of his improvement as Huff is more than a three point shooter and his overall game has improved leaps and bounds over last year.
I think the frustrations with Huff are just that his usage hasn’t increased. Last year he could be a cog in the machine, let things come. This team needs more.
Back before the season we did our round table discussion with Doug and Mark. We talked about the wildcards for this team to reach its potential. The two players prominently mentioned were Huff and Morsell. Casey’s battling his own mind for control of his shot right now. And Jay isn’t a big enough part of the offense so far to make that sort of impact. So here we are.